Genre: YA Science Fiction
Release date: May 7 2013
Source: e-ARC from Publisher
In a word: A fascinating spin on “rising from the dead,” suspenseful, characters you will love and pitch perfect dialog.
I always like to see how writers handle characters that show little or no emotion. It’s got to be hard, since one of a writer’s goals is (or should be) to evoke emotion in the reader. So when I read the blurb for Reboot, I knew I wanted to read the book. The character of Wren, a teen who has died and then “rebooted”—come back to life—was so well done, and I enjoyed seeing her progress from a girl that shows no emotion to one that will put herself in danger in order to save her friends. The world of Reboot is harsh, and Tintera doesn’t shy away from dangerous situations.
Due to a deadly virus called KDH, humans who die are sometimes rebooted, and the longer they are dead before they reboot, the less humanity they have left. Wren is a 178, which means she was dead for one hundred and seventy-eight minutes before she woke up. Wren has barely any human left in her, and she’s one of the fastest and strongest Reboots at HARC, the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation, the facility where she lives and works. The author jumps right into the middle of the action without any explanation, and it takes a chapter or two to start forming a picture of what’s happening. HARC is the place where Reboots go after they wake up, and they are put to work, policing the surrounding area, capturing criminals and collecting the sick to be taken to the hospital. Human guards keep the Reboots in check, and although Wren feels as if HARC is her home, it’s clear that it’s more of a prison than anything else.
When a new Reboot joins the group, a teen boy named Callum who is only a twenty-two, Wren becomes his trainer (to help him learn how to use his newly acquired Reboot strength and adjust to life at HARC), much to her chagrin. (Wren usually trains the higher numbers, who are better Reboots all around). But there’s something about Callum’s charming smile and twinkling eyes that at first confuses Wren, and then attracts her. As the two become closer during their daily work-outs and eventually go out on missions together, Wren’s steady and predictable Reboot existence begins to show cracks, and she is forced to make some very human decisions, not only to save herself, but to save those in the facility that she is growing fond of, both humans and Reboots alike.
I loved the idea that a strain of virus could be the cause of reanimating the dead, and it’s a scary but believable concept that opens up lots of story possibilities. Tintera does a great job slowly doling out information about the world-building without too much “telling.” Although I do admit to being confused in a few places, especially the beginning, it makes for a better paced story when the author doesn’t spend paragraph after paragraph dumping the information in your lap. I also loved her descriptions of this bleak and terrifying world. Humans live in constant fear of not only dying, due to illness and a war-like existence, but the fear that after they die they might come back as a monster: a Reboot.
Several characters really stood out as favorites of mine. I loved Callum, Wren’s love interest and an almost human twenty-two who is barely a Reboot at all. He falls for Wren right away, but it’s going to take some work to convince her to like him back, and Callum seems to take this as a challenge. His emotional ties to his family, whom he has had to leave behind, make him all the more likeable, especially after he tries to make contact with them and things don’t turn out the way he wants them to. My other favorite character was Wren’s roommate Ever, a fifty-six whose low number has left her with more human qualities than most Reboots. But when Ever suddenly turns violent and tries to attack her roommate, Wren knows the overseers of HARC have done something to her, and she will do anything to save her friend.
The story was much more violent than I expected, and while I’m not usually bothered by violence, it was described in such a casual way in Reboot that it became somewhat disturbing. Because Reboots can heal themselves from almost any injury, an ability that makes them perfect for living under such harsh conditions, part of their training involves being shot and having their limbs broken, over and over again, until they feel nothing. I didn’t count the number of times a Reboot deliberately broke someone’s leg or arm, but I can tell you it was more than ten! The cold and inhuman side of Wren was most evident during these scenes, and I was happy when her human side started to come out.
A few things didn’t work for me, especially the romance between Callum and Wren. I’m not sure if it can be classified as “insta-love,” but it seemed as if one minute Wren was pulling away from Callum’s attempts at flirting, and the next she was cuddled up next to him and kissing him. I wanted more explanation about Wren’s transition from unemotional Reboot to the more caring and lovable person she becomes by the end of the book.
I also wished there had been more emotional layers to the story, something perhaps from Wren’s past life as a human that could be integrated into the story to make the human part of her more believable. The author makes several references to her unhappy childhood, and there is a lovely but heartbreaking moment when Wren sees a photo of herself as a child, a child she barely recognizes; but I wanted more moments like these to balance out the action and violence.
But Reboot was quite the ride, and it’s a very strong start to a new series. Tintera ends her story with unanswered questions, but luckily doesn’t leave us with a cliffhanger ending. If you are a fan of science fiction and non-stop action, you will love Reboot.
Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
Watch the Trailer for Reboot!